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Monday, January 16, 2017

California Today: With New Laws, What Will Change in 2017?

Mike McPhate

Gov. Jerry Brown signed 898 bills this year.Many go into effect in 2017, altering our lives in big and small ways.Scott Graves, director of research at the California Budget and Policy Center, said many of the successful measures underscored the state’s progressive path, especially in the workplace.This year, California has been “bucking the trend” of right-leaning ideas emerging on the national stage, he said.(Among hard-fought measures that didn’t make the cut: expanded leave for new parents, a repeal of the so-called tampon tax and the abolition of the death penalty, which was defeated at the ballot box).
Some of the new laws:
• No more Instagram updates behind the wheel.
It’s already illegal to hold a phone and talk or text while driving. Starting Jan. 1, motorists cannot hold their phone for any reason. Hands-free functions will still be allowed.
• A minimum-wage bump.
California’s minimum wage will rise to $10.50 an hour, up from $10. Yearly increases under the new law will bring the wage to $15 an hour by 2022. All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages above the federal base of $7.25 per hour.
• Tougher sentencing after the Brock Turner case.
Anger over the six-month jail sentence for Mr. Turner, the Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, led the state to make a sexual-assault conviction ineligible for probation. Other measures removed a statute of limitations on rape, and broadened the legal definition of the word to include “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault.”
• Stricter gun control.
New measures were passed in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, then voters approved more on the Nov. 8 ballot. Among them: the expansion of an assault weapons ban, first-in-the-nation background checks on ammunition purchases, and a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
• Wine with your hair coloring.
Who hasn’t sat at the beauty parlor and thought, “I could go for glass of chardonnay”? In 2017, salons and barber shops will be allowed to serve complimentary alcohol. The measure legalizes a practice already commonplace at many salons, where it’s part of the pampering.
Other notable measures:
— Terminally ill patients will be allowed to try experimental drugs.
— Law enforcement will be forbidden from charging minors with prostitution.
— Single-toilet bathrooms will have to be gender neutral in many places.
— The use of “Redskins” as a school mascot will be banned.